I must admit that at first I did not understand what all the racial fuss was about. I understood people being angry and wanting justice for George Floyd, but it took me quite a while to really get behind all the protesting and stuff. I thought for a long time that people just wanna fuss about anything, and why does everything have to be about race? I had to read some history and do some listening.
Now everything has died down. I missed my chance to march in the streets and shout for change! I feel bad that I sat back for so long not seeing the big picture, and now I feel like I can’t let my voice be heard. I just want to help. I do have privilege, and I want to help now. What can us late bloomers do to help the fight?
Better Late Than Never
Welcome, comrade! First off, don’t feel bad for showing up to the fight when you did. You needed that time to learn why racial justice matters and why it’s imperative that every single person be on the right side of history. I think we can all see how this stuff isn’t common knowledge for the privileged, and an uninformed ally can very often do more harm than good. An enthusiastic n00b is kinda like a bull in a china shop, so be easy on yourself. Keep reading and learning about good allyship—how to use your privilege to amplify oppressed voices, how to support the marginalized without centering yourself, proper protest/demonstration etiquette, things like that.
Please don’t think that political action is nothing more than marching in the streets. It feels good to march and chant, but real change happens locally and on a legislative level. One of the most important things you can do is vote in every election possible and help replace some of the fair-weather radicals that have exposed themselves in our county government. I won’t say much, but yeah, I’m bummed that the 50/10 plan was killed. Like, really bummed and hurt and insulted, because it was my own commissioner who came up with the toothless compromise that’s being adopted instead. Wow y’all, we’re gonna get a committee that’s gonna look at our cops and stuff. The commission apparently wouldn’t even consider addendums that would simply have them think about reducing funding for the police force. So yeah. Go vote, Athens—and run, too.
There are still public demonstrations happening at the Arch and around downtown, and there’s also Caravan for Care, Not Cops. Organized by Commissioner Mariah Parker, it’s a rolling protest that travels to the six locations where police killed people in Athens in 2019. Keep your eyes on social media for info on future caravans and other demonstrations if you’re trying to get out in public.
Demonstrations can be scary when the cops show up dressed for riots, so if you get cold feet, that’s fine. There is immense value in making signs for people, chanting from the sidelines, transporting people to and from demonstrations, and other actions that don’t require you to put yourself in the line of danger.
Another thing you can do right now is support local politicians and organizations who fight for justice fearlessly. The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement has a bail fund that you can donate to instead of running the risk of being arrested yourself, and they’re a great group to support anyway, if you’re privileged and desire to empower the marginalized. Athens For Everyone includes some of my favorite white allies in town, and offers tons of opportunities for community engagement and tangible avenues to positive change. They have a Black Lives Matter page on their site with info on how to educate yourself, which organizations need your donation, and which local politicians center people of color and endorse BLM’s platform. As far as finding these orgs and events goes, a quick Google should do you fine.
Need advice? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, use the anonymous form at flagpole.com/get-advice, or find Bonita on twitter: @flagpolebonita.
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